What your parents did for a living, where you grew up or where you went to school, shouldn’t affect your chances in life – but sadly, it often does.

A person’s socio-economic background can impact not only the career opportunities available to them but also, once they have a foot in the door, how quickly, or even how far, they progress.

Arguably, the financial services sector has been slower than some other industries to wake up to social mobility as a vital strand of our diversity and inclusion efforts.

As a woman who grew up in a working class community, driving improvement in this area has personal significance for me.

I had a great boss early in my career who helped me, and I’m dedicated to creating an organisation that opens up opportunities in the same way - making a workplace where class and early background circumstances don’t matter.

Rich perspectives

To deliver the very best outcomes for our customers, we need the most talented, highest performing employees that we can find, at every level of seniority in our business.

If some of that talent is overlooked, be it in the marketplace or our own workforce, we lose out.

Yet statistics clearly show that, in society, lower-performing people from more privileged socio-economic backgrounds are consistently becoming higher earners more often than higher-performing people from less privileged backgrounds.

That’s something we must consciously address. Not just because it’s the right thing to do - that goes without saying - but because it makes business sense.

One way we’re doing this is by understanding and embracing socio-economic diversity and inclusion within our own workforce. We want to ensure everyone at HSBC has fair and equal access to opportunities regardless of their background

The goal is to open up opportunity for people as they are - to enable them, value their perspectives, and make the most of their potential.

At its heart, promoting socio-economic mobility is about maximising human potential and capability.

Fair and inclusive recruitment

At the start of people’s careers, the barriers they face, and the conscious effort we can make on socio-economic inclusion, are clearer.

We’re improving our hiring practices and seeking new ways to incentivise the best candidates. One of the best ways to do that is through trusted partnerships in communities.

We’re working with an increasing range of companies, community groups and charities to open up access to opportunities to people who might currently feel excluded by their background.

Supporting progression

Later in people’s careers, the barriers that may be facing those from less privileged backgrounds become less obvious, but they may still be there.

Before we can see, let alone address, those obstacles and the representation gaps they create, we need to know - what are people’s backgrounds?

So in the UK, for example, we’re joining other peer companies in adding a new category of voluntary personal reporting - alongside the likes of ethnicity and disability status - to ask the occupation of our employees’ main household earner when they were 14 years old. That, according to leading academics and experts, is the best single question we can ask to ascertain people’s socio-economic background.

Then the responsibility is on us to identify and address any barriers and to create an environment, deliberately, where those talented people can succeed and progress, maximise their potential and be themselves at work.

We’re committed to this because we know that when our people bring a richness of diversity and different perspectives to HSBC, we’re better for it.

The role data plays in building a more diverse bank

HSBC’s Global Head of Inclusion Carolanne Minashi explains why data is key to driving lasting change within the bank and beyond.

Global diversity data

We’re creating an accurate and transparent view of our workforce so we can effectively target our actions and measure our progress.